The 5 Love Languages of a Team

In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to dive into one of the best marriage books I’ve read, “The Five Love Languages”. Its theory, when applied, can be a gamechanger in any relationship on any team. It states there are five basic ways we give and receive love, and each of us have one primary (and often a close secondary) love language. We are most filled up when our spouse, teammate, colleague, etc. communicates in our primary language. It’s crucial we understand how others best receive love in order to more deeply connect. Team culture and chemistry are enhanced when we “speak” one another’s love language. 

The Five Love Languages — played out in different arenas:

Physical Touch: A 2010 study revealed the most touch-based NBA teams were typically the best. That season, the two touchiest teams, the Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics, met in the NBA Finals. A 2015 study showed similar results. Former NBA MVP, Steve Nash, reportedly gave an average of 239 high-fives per game! Making a physical connection: a hand-shake, fist-bump, arm-over-shoulder, embrace, etc. is a powerful gesture. Why do you think politicians make sure to shake as many hands as possible when working through a crowd? Physical touch creates connection and builds a bond. You don’t need an elaborate handshake — initiate physical contact in order to make a positive impact within your teams and relationships.

Words of Affirmation: Proverbs 18:21 says “The tongue has the power of life and death…”I’ve previously wrote about the belief a former coach instilled in me when he told me, “You’re a pro.” He didn’t need to elaborate. It was direct and genuine. I held onto those inspiring words for years to come. You don’t need to always critique the performance — try to find ways to encourage and call out the potential within others. 

Quality Time: Spurs head coach Greg Popovich is believed to spend seven figures annually on food and wine! Outrageous, perhaps, but his investment has been well worth it. “Pop” has won more with a single franchise than any other coach in NBA history, including four NBA titles! The Spurs epitomize team basketball in a superstar driven league. I’m sure the food and wine were fantastic, but it wasn’t actually about cuisine. The dinners created a space where individuals developed friendships and strengthened their bonds throughout the ups and downs of a season. You don’t need a million dollar budget — prioritize and protect quality time with your team and in your most important relationships.

Acts of Service: After road games in college, we’d typically arrive back in Champaign at 2 or 3am and (being winter in Illinois) in freezing temperatures. As players, we’d deboard the private plane and head directly to the warm bus waiting for us. My head coach, Bruce Weber, never went to the bus. Win or lose, he stayed in the cold with the managers to help unload equipment from the plane. That act of service spoke volumes to our managers. (If you don’t know, college managers are the hardest working and most underappreciated group in college sports — and all they do is serve). More than a brilliant game plan, Coach Weber earned loyalty, respect and admiration through his humility in those moments. You don’t need to do big things to influence — find small ways to serve your team today.

Receiving Gifts: When I was younger, my family was looking to move to a new home. There were a few homes my dad wouldn’t even consider. Not because of the floor plan, the number of bedrooms or even location, but because of the driveway. Yes, if the driveway wasn’t flat or big enough for a decent basketball court, he didn’t want it. I doubt my parents knew it at the time, but having a home with a driveway to play ball on was an absolute gift. It’s where I fell in love with the game and developed my skills. You don’t have to buy a new home — give a gift that fans the flame of another’s passion and enables them to improve their abilities.

Find ways to love on and connect with all your teams today!

Milan, Italy (2015) The Italians don’t hold back showing their love! 😆

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